17 August 2019

An Exercise

This week's lessons with my chess students have focused on queenside pawn majorities. We look at a couple of games played by Mikhail Botvinnik, an endgame that Seigbert Tarrasch blew against Emanuel Lasker, and this position that I created.

White to move

We start with the pawn exercise, and I do not initially tell the student who is to move, nor our theme concerning queenside pawn majorities. If the student thinks the position is equal, I play White. If they think one side is winning, they get that side and get to move first.

Try it against a friend or your computer.

Then, Lasker -- Tarrasch, St. Petersburg 1914.

Black to move

We play it out. I take White.

Then we look at Botvinnik -- Kmoch, Leningrad 1934 and Botvinnik -- Konstantinopolsky, Sverdlovsk 1943. If enough time remains, we go over a game that I played a few years ago (see "Excelling at Technical Chess").

The lesson and much of its content was inspired by Max Euwe, Judgement and Planning in Chess (1953).

06 August 2019

Reiner -- Steinitz

William Steinitz moved to Vienna from his hometown of Prague in 1858, and in 1859 placed third in the city's chess championship. Databases contain three of his games against Reiner from 1860. This game cropped up in a search for examples of Arabian checkmate. White could have delayed checkmate, but he was effectively lost quite early in the game. It is a good example of a risky gambit going horribly wrong.

Reiner -- Steinitz,William [C44]
Vienna, 1860

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0

5.Ng5 Nh6 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qb5 Re8 Black won in 21 moves Meek,A -- Morphy,P, Mobile 1855. See Meek--Morphy

5.c3 is the main line, but even here Black scores well

5...d6 6.c3 Bg4

White to move


7.Bb5 dxc3 8.Nxc3 Nge7 9.h3 Bd7 (9...Bh5) 10.Bf4 (10.a3) 10...a6 11.Bc4 Ng6 12.Bg5 Qc8 White won in 40 moves Lapshun,Y (2479) -- Berczes,D (2450), Budapest 2007.

7.Bxf7+ fails 7...Kxf7 8.Ng5+ compounds White's problems 8...Qxg5 9.Bxg5 Bxd1 10.Rxd1-+;

7.Bg5 Nge7

7...Bxf3 8.Bxf7+ Kf8 9.Bxg8

9.gxf3 seems White's best chance. 9...Nf6 10.Bc4=

9...Rxg8 10.gxf3 g5

Black is better, although one master game that reached this position was won by White.

White to move


11.Nd2 seems useful. White's pieces must get into the game. 11...Ne5 12.cxd4 Bxd4 13.Nc4 Qf6 (13...Qc8? 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Kg2 White won in 42 moves Kopetzky,K -- Spielmann,R, Vienna 1933) 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 and even with the reduced material, White's king is vulnerable.


White's opening must be judged a failure. A pawn was sacrificed for mobilization, but Black's pieces are better mobilized.

11...Rg6 12.Qf5+ Kg7 13.Kh1 Qe7 14.Rg1 Rf8 15.Bxg5 Rxf5 16.Bxe7 Rh5 17.b4 Bb6 18.Bxd6 cxd6 Black won in 25 moves Karaklajic,N (2405) -- Barle,J (2425), Caorle 1988.

12.Qf5+ Kg7 13.Kh1

13.Bxg5 Nxf3+ 14.Qxf3 Qxg5+ 15.Kh1 Kh8 16.Nd2 Raf8-+;

13.f4 gxf4 14.Bxf4 Kh8+ 15.Kh1 Ng4-+.

13...Kh8 14.Rg1

14.cxd4 Bxd4 15.Nc3 g4-+


White to move


15.fxg4 Qh4 (15...Rg5 16.Qf4) 16.Bf4 Nxg4 17.Rxg4 (17.Rf1 Raf8) 17...Qxg4 18.Qxg4 Rxg4 19.Bh6 Rxe4-+;

15.Bf4 Qe7 16.Bxe5+ dxe5-+.




16.Nd2 Nxg1-+;
16.Rg2 Nh4-+

White to move

This position is one of the exercises I prepared for my students. I'm sure that it appears in many tactics sets in print and online.

16...Qh4! 17.Rg2

17.Qf6 delays the end.

17...Qxh2+ 18.Rxh2 Rg1# 0-1